5 common applications of lasers in electronics

Electronics are everywhere nowadays. You'd never guess how many lasers are involved in their use and manufacture.

Let's see a few common examples of laser applications nowadays in electronics.

Nanometric stencils

Modern chips are not simple circuits. Your phone contains hundreds of millions of parts (even billions if it’s a very recent model), and they need to be connected just right. The wires connecting all this cannot be placed one at a time. That would take too long and be too error-prone.

Instead, the circuits are printed onto the circuit board using photolithography, which is a hi-tech use of stencils and lasers (and solvents and resins, but we won't get into that part!).

In your every day life, using a stencil means:

  • choosing your paper;
  • placing your stencil on top;
  • spraying your paint on.

In photolithography, it looks more like:

  • choosing and preparing your semiconductor and resin;
  • placing your optical mask on it;
  • shining your laser at it.

This “stencil” approach allows you to print the complex chip circuit in a repeatable way.

Clean, Precise, Repeatable Cuts

Lasers can produce cuts that are clean, precise and repeatable. Unlike sawblades however, a laser cannot get dirty. This is particularly important in the field of electronics, where small specks of dust could contaminate the system, inducing nefarious short-circuits or other undesirable effects.

Unlike mechanical sawblades, laser beams also stay sharp forever. Well, almost! Their beam profile can get a little less pristine with time. If you suspect this has happened to your laser, one of our friendly representatives can help you track down solutions. You may also be interested in learning more about our laser beam profiler BEAMAGE in this case.

CDs, Blu-Ray, and the Superman memory crystal

Remember CDs and Blu-Ray DVDs? They are a great everyday example of common uses of lasers in consumer electronics. But how do they work?

You can see a CD as a long series of mini-mirrors, coiled in a very long thing spiral. To read a CD, you shine a laser at it. Each of the mini-mirrors can deflect the laser light either towards, or away from, the laser detector.

From the detector's point of view, what you end up seeing is a blinking light. When it's on, that's a 1. When it's off, that's a 0. And 1's and 0's is essentially everything you read, everything you watch and everything you listen to on the internet (or on any digital device, for that matter).

CD's and DVD's may be a bit dated, but similar concepts of optical storage have been applied in 5D configurations in quartz crystals, dubbed the Superman memory crystal. This crystal allows us to store data in a very dense and durable way. This has sparked projects to create a sort of digital Noah's Ark, safeguarding open-source code for future generations.

Laser engraving

Components of a microcircuits are typically labelled to make them easier to work with. It used to be that resins like epoxy were used to make the labels. However, laser engraving allows for unparalleled resolution, which means you can write smaller, and clearer, than ever before, on a host of materials not limited to electronics.

You could laser-engrave your lover's name into your wedding ring’s diamond. A modern, microscopic twist on heart tattoos!

Recharging a battery from miles away

Power beaming allows the transfer of power wirelessly across large distances. What that means is that you could recharge a drone in-flight, or power up a Mars Rover from afar.

To achieve this, the faraway drone or Rover must be equipped with photovoltaic cells (also known as solar panels) that are tuned to work well with a certain laser. When you shine that laser at the distant device, the energy contained in the laser beam is transformed into electricity by the photovoltaic cells.

Lasers are everywhere in electronics

These 5 examples are just a small subset of all common applications of lasers in electronics. Subscribe to our blog below to learn more about laser beam measurement and discover more uses of lasers.

 


Gentec-EO
Gentec Electro-Optics is specialized in laser beam and terahertz source measurement and analysis. With an outstanding 50-year track record of innovation, developing and providing state-of the-art technologies to the laser market, Gentec-EO has become The Expert of the laser beam measurement field. For all sorts of laser applications from the factory to the hospital, laboratory and research center, Gentec-EO offers the broadest range of off-the-shelf and custom solutions, and stands ready to serve you now and in the future.
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